A votum or a veto?

Fr. Hunwicke writes (http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.ca/2014/07/is-there-canonist-out-there.html):

It appears that the former Bishop David Moyer has been told that he cannot enter the presbyterate of the American Ordinariate because the local Roman Catholic territorial bishop will not give him a positive votum.

I wonder if anyone can explain how this fits in with the provisions of Anglicanorum coetibus?

I have no idea whether this is true or not.  There is also an instance I heard about where the local archbishop has given his votum but former TAC clergyman in question is not being considered.
But moving away from specific cases to principles, because we do not have the ability to ordain our own priests, we require the local Roman Catholic bishop to ordain and we cannot expect a bishop to ordain someone he would not approve himself as a candidate for holy orders.  Secondly, good relations between the local diocese and the Ordinariate are essential.  We are not to separate ourselves into some kind of closed, self-referential community but to be well-integrated into the wider life of the Catholic Church.

That said, we have been very, very blessed in Ottawa to have a welcoming archbishop who supported us and encouraged us and treated our former priests with fatherly concern even before they became Catholic.  We are also well-integrated into the Catholic community, with the kind of sharing of gifts Pope Benedict XVI envisioned with Anglicanorum coetibus.

I hope that bishops in other dioceses will be as welcoming and generous as many bishops have already shown themselves to be across Canada and the United States.  But some may need some persuading there is nothing to fear from us.

 

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11 Responses to A votum or a veto?

  1. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    Your quotation: It appears that the former Bishop David Moyer has been told that he cannot enter the presbyterate of the American Ordinariate because the local Roman Catholic territorial bishop will not give him a positive votum.

    I wonder if anyone can explain how this fits in with the provisions of Anglicanorum coetibus?

    Canonically, the votum of the bishop of the local diocese for ordination of former Anglican clergy who come into the Catholic Church through an ordinariate is purely advisory. The presumption here is that clergy of the local Catholic diocese who have served in the same community as the former Anglican cleric often know the individual personally, whereas the administrative staff of an ordinariate, often located hundreds or even thousands of miles away, are less likely to know the candidate. The bishop obviously would consult clergy who know the former Anglican cleric before responding to the request for a votum. The ordinary of an ordinariate does have the canonical authority to proceed to ordination of a candidate who receives a negative votum, but the prudence of doing so is another matter — and I suspect that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would ask a lot of questions before processing a rescript for a married candidate!

    As best I can tell, the votum of the local diocesan bishop is not required for members of an ordinariate who go to seminary under the ordinariate’s own vocation program. In those cases, the candidate is recommended by his pastor and further screened quite rigorously in the process of seminary formation, in the same manner as a seminarian studying for a local diocese. Also, the local diocesan bishop and his clergy are much less likely to know such candidates personally.

    You wrote: But moving away from specific cases to principles, because we do not have the ability to ordain our own priests, we require the local Roman Catholic bishop to ordain and we cannot expect a bishop to ordain someone he would not approve himself as a candidate for holy orders.

    That’s true, but it’s not a serious obstacle. The ordinary can ask any bishop — diocesan or auxiliary — to ordain candidates for his ordinariate. You may recall that Archbishop Prendergast of Ottawa ordained Fr. John Hodgins (St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Toronto) and Fr. James Tilley (The Church of the Good Shepherd, Oshawa) to the order of presbyter a few months ago even though both would serve in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

    You continued: Secondly, good relations between the local diocese and the Ordinariate are essential. We are not to separate ourselves into some kind of closed, self-referential community but to be well-integrated into the wider life of the Catholic Church.

    Yes, this is indeed an obvious and very compelling reason not to go against the votum of the local diocesan bishop. But, more importantly, bishops normally are not people who act irrationally. The local bishop is not likely to refuse his votum unless he has compelling reasons for doing so. In most cases, the bishop probably would discuss the situation personally with the ordinary and the ordinary would withdraw the request.

    In a rare situation in which an ordinary thought that a bishop was withholding his votum on dubious grounds, the ordinary probably would discuss the situation with the staff of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). The staff of the CDF would then provide, ah, “guidance” (not really optional…) as to how best to proceed after hearing both sides.

    In this scenario, relocation of the candidate to another diocese is also an option.

    You wrote: I hope that bishops in other dioceses will be as welcoming and generous as many bishops have already shown themselves to be across Canada and the United States. But some may need some persuading there is nothing to fear from us.

    I suspect that most of the bishops in the countries served by the present ordinariates, having met the respective ordinaries at the meetings of their episcopal conferences and heard favorable comments from other bishops, are pretty open to an ordinariate presence in their dioceses. On the other hand, I suspect that the CDF is quite well prepared to provide a bit of “guidance” to any diocesan bishop who might need it.

    Norm.

  2. EPMS says:

    In the case of David Moyer, the local diocesan knew him not at all, having just been appointed, and the Ordinary knew him rather well. We can draw our own conclusions. This circumstance is not likely to be repeated, however.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: In the case of David Moyer, the local diocesan knew him not at all, having just been appointed…

      True, but the clergy of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who served the Catholic parishes that surrounded his community undoubtedly knew him well.

      You continued: … and the Ordinary knew him rather well.

      How do you know this?

      As best I can tell, Mr. Moyer never served as a bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC) and apparently never served in the southwestern United States, where Msgr. Steenson formerly served as a bishop of The Episcopal Church. I don’t see anything in his past that would indicate any sort of regular contact with Msgr. Steenson.

      Norm.

  3. EPMS says:

    Both Steenson and Moyer were clergy in the same TEC diocese in Philadelphia. I knew about Moyer’s legal run-ins with the diocese and I don’t even live in the same country.

    • William Tighe says:

      Msgr. Steenson was Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, PA, from 1985 to 1989; Moyer was his successor from 1989 until dispossessed in 2013.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: Both Steenson and Moyer were clergy in the same TEC diocese in Philadelphia.

      Okay, but I would not infer a close relationship on that basis. They attended many of the same meetings for diocesan clergy and perhaps listened to each other’s comments in such fora, but that does not mean that they ever actually met “one on one” and shook each other’s hand.

      You wrote: I knew about Moyer’s legal run-ins with the diocese and I don’t even live in the same country.

      Yes, and that probably is what motivated Archbishop Chaput’s decision to withhold the votum. Being quick to sue in court does indicate a certain intemperance in one’s personality.

      Norm.

      • Kim O'Neill says:

        Norm — your judgment is somewhat negative and uncharitable here concerning Moyer. Have you ever met him? I have known him for years and years and your comment here along with Chaput’s mistaken assessment of him, couldn’t be further from the truth. For the sake of all the readers here, please know that first of all Moyer was NEVER “quick to sue in court.” This statement is an example of false witnessing. No, Moyer surrounded himself with many, many presbyters and counselors, including the Archbishop of Canturbury at the time of his courtroom involvements. For the record, being in the courts for resolve only came long after ECUSA denied him his rightful church trial (which to this day has never happened, because his Scriptural positions would never be proven off and the heretical Church authorities (ie. false bishops) would have had to step aside to Scriptural truth). Remember that here in the United States of America, we have the freedom–yes–true freedom to go or not go into the judicial system to the end that justice and truth be established. All church denominations have used the courts of the land–and let us not deny the truth of this statement when it comes to Rome, which is big “C”! No–Moyer certainly wasn’t and isn’t about “intemperance”—please, let’s be fair! The man is almost inhuman when it comes to forebearance with all the abuse he has been through. As Moyer walks in the footsteps of the patron Blessed John Henry Newman, who suffered great persecutions from both Anglican and Roman ties–we must wait and see what will be and the final say such saltiness.

        Kim

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Kim,

        You wrote: Norm — your judgment is somewhat negative and uncharitable here concerning Moyer. Have you ever met him?

        Please understand that I was making no judgement whatsoever of the man. I was merely analyzing the information presented by others who have no apparent reason to misrepresent the matter, taken at its face value.

        And no, I have not met former bishop David Moyer — which is why I don’t judge the situation personally.

        You wrote: I have known him for years and years and your comment here along with Chaput’s mistaken assessment of him, couldn’t be further from the truth.

        I rather suspect that Archbishop Chaput consulted with clergy of his archdiocese who do know the former bishop, and that he got an earful about something. The fact is that none of us know the reasons why Archbishop Chaput withheld his votum in this case because the matter is strictly confidential.

        BTW, I have met Archbishop Chaput on several occasions, and I have never known him to be intemperate or rash. I have no doubt that the decision to withhold his votum was a very considered decision, and not taken without serious cause.

        And for the record, I am exceedingly disappointed that none of the former bishops of the Anglican Church in America (ACA), the province of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) here in the States, have received ordination for the ordinariate as yet. The circumstances undoubtedly differ from case to case, but all of the details are confidential so I am in no position to second guess those who are in charge.

        You wrote: For the sake of all the readers here, please know that first of all Moyer was NEVER “quick to sue in court.”

        Nor did I say that he was. I simply remarked that such behavior would recommend against ordination in the Catholic Church.

        Norm.

  4. William Tighe says:

    Kim, you are correct on all counts. Norm, I have known Moyer for years, and am very well acquainted with they whys and wherefores of his case, and of the lawsuits in particular. ” Being quick to sue in court” – what does this mean? It was the PA Episcopalian diocese that initiated the lawsuit to “recover” the church property of Good Shepherd, Rosemont. The only lawsuit that Moyer (and the GS Vestry) initiated was the one against the church’s former Senior Warden and legal counsel, and whatever the adverse results for Moyer’s ordination prospects of it, the lawsuit was inevitable once the Vestry realized that they all as individuals might be responsible (due to alleged misleading legal counsel) to pay million$ to the Episcopal diocese if the parish lost its legal case.

    • Foolishness says:

      Thank you, Bill and Kim. Though I have only met David Moyer once, many in my acquaintance who do know him say similarly positive things about him and his faithfulness to Christ.

  5. EPMS says:

    I believe that Moyer subsequently sued his own lawyer after he failed to get a votum, and subpoenaed Msgr Steenson, and perhaps David Virtue, in the process. I reiterate that he had a reputation for litigiousness. One can justify each case individually, but when they pile up it is hard to see it as a coincidence.

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